Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A New Perspective on Gratitude

We sit around the table preparing to ask God's blessing on our bountiful harvest, when someone begins the time-honored tradition. "Let's go around the table and tell one thing we are thankful for." Really? One thing? Is it one random thing or the most important thing? Would everything be too broad?

I appreciate the sentiment. We do need to count our blessings, but it's always the same. The one who starts says either "Jesus" or "my family". How does one improve on that? Do I say "ditto" or be unique and say something materialistic like "a car to drive" or "a roof over my head"? If we all say the same thing, what's the point? Yet, who wants to be the one to cause others to think his BMW is more important to him than the Savior of the world?

I'm not quite brave enough, but I'd like to say something different than the usual this year. "What are you thankful for?" "Pain." I can see the incredulous stares, the rolling eyes, the questioning expressions waiting for me to reveal the punchline of the joke. Yet pain has produced some of the dearest things to me. The pain Jesus suffered on Calvary that afforded my salvation. The pain of guilt I felt from my own sin that drove me to Him. The pain of childbirth that produced my four lovely children. And I could go on.

Pain always has a purpose. It keeps us from being too comfortable--in sin. Do I enjoy it? No, not at all. Not the process, that is.

"What are you thankful for?" Everything worthy of my gratitude has come to me through that medium from which I simultaneously shrink and embrace. No, not for the sake of pain itself, but for the place to which it brings me.

This post is linked to Women in the Word Wednesdays.

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